By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Taylor Bunde still remembers the advice she received during a freshman general studies course at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
A guest speaker talked about the value of relationships – how connecting with others can benefit you both personally and professionally.
“That’s something I’ve been reflecting back on more recently as I’ve been writing my speech,” said Bunde, who was selected to speak during Friday’s summer commencement ceremony.
She plans to share a similar message with her fellow graduates – cherish the relationships you made at UNK and never forget this time together.
“I’m really glad I came to UNK,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of great people here. It’s definitely been really special.”
A Hastings native and Adams Central High School graduate, Bunde spent the past four years connecting with classmates, co-workers, faculty members and friends through her involvement on campus and in the Kearney community.
“One of my favorite things about UNK – and I know Chancellor Kristensen mentions this a lot – is Kearney is kind of like a big, small town. And that’s kind of what I was used to with Hastings,” she said. “It’s provided a lot of familiarity and a lot of comfort to be at UNK the past four years. It’s a place I’ve always been excited to come back to every August.”
Bunde participated in a number of activities and organizations at UNK, including Circle K International, Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, Phi Eta Sigma honor society and the Secondary Educators’ Club.
She was also active with UNK’s Center for Economic Education, which promotes economic and financial literacy in the state. In addition to attending the center’s training sessions and professional development events, Bunde worked with high schoolers to help them prepare for state and national business competitions. She assisted with the annual Loper Business Invitational, which brought nearly 250 students from 24 schools to campus in February, and evaluated student presentations ahead of this summer’s FBLA National Leadership Conference in Chicago.
Alyse Pflanz, director of the Center for Economic Education and coordinator of UNK’s business teacher education program, knew she could count on Bunde to step up during these events.
“Taylor is one of the brightest and most genuinely kindhearted students to come through the business, marketing and information technology education program,” Pflanz said. “She excels at every single task laid before her, whether it be in the classroom, in an organization or in the workplace.”
A regular on the dean’s list for academic excellence, Bunde supported the community by volunteering with Junior Achievement, an organization that teaches young people about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and career readiness, and she served as a paraprofessional for the Kearney Community Learning Center after-school program, working with students at Kenwood Elementary from August 2020 to December 2021.
She completed her student teaching at Gibbon Public Schools in the spring and graduates summa cum laude on Friday with a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing and information technology education.
“I’m excited to be the commencement speaker. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it means a lot that the chancellor selected me to speak out of all the students who were nominated,” said Bunde, whose older brother Dylan graduated from UNK in 2018.
Although she remains passionate about education and teaching, Bunde will start her professional career as a client services assistant with Barney Financial Services in Kearney.
“Her future has limitless opportunities in both fields of education and business because of her passion to help others and succeed, all while maintaining the highest level of integrity and loyalty. That is hard to find,” Pflanz said.